While in recent years the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug has dominated pest headlines in the United States, a new kind of stink bug is emerging as a threat to homeowners and farmers. The kudzu bug (Megacopta cribraria), native to Asia, has spread aggressively in the southeastern United States since being discovered just outside Atlanta four years ago. Named for their fondness for feeding on the kudzu plant, the bugs in appearance look more similar to a beetle but are actually members of the Pentatomoidea superfamily which contains stink bugs.
While kudzu bugs do not spread disease (like other insects such as mosquitoes and ticks), the plump pests have been causing worry for soybean farmers. Kudzu bugs target soybean fields where they can seriously impact crop yields. Scientists are hard at work studying the kudzu as soybeans are the United States’ second-largest cash crop. A recent study that consisted of 19 trials in the southeast found that kudzu bug-infested soybean crops that were unprotected yielded an average loss of 18%.
The invasive species was first documented in the state of Georgia but has since been spotted in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, and Louisiana. And the kudzu could be invading states like Pennsylvania before long. See the distribution for yourself on the below map from www.kudzubug.org – a site developed by the University of Georgia dedicated to the tracking and research of the asian invader.
While kudzu bugs do not bite, they can irritate human skin by their body secretions which are often confused for bites. The irritation often leaves a stain which subsides after a few days. Like other overwintering pests, the kudzu targets home in the fall when the temperatures begin to drop. To prevent the kudzu and other pests like stink bugs and boxelder bugs from trying to enter your home, make sure to seal any cracks in your home where insects can sneak in. Insects are especially fond of entering homes via cracked window frames and exposed areas around doors.
It is key to remember to remove any air conditioning units in windows as that is a common point of entry for stink bugs. While doing your best to block points of entry will decrease your chance of a stink bug or kudzu bug infestation, it is difficult to completely prevent the insects from entering your home if they target your property in high numbers. Be sure to contact a professional pest control company like Ehrlich for the best advice and control solutions.
For more information on the kudzu bug’s stinky cousin, check out our stink bug infographic here.
Have you encountered the kudzu bug? Share your thoughts in the comments below!